God is love; and they that dwell in love, dwell in God and God in them.
O God the Father of all, the maker of heaven and earth, the giver of life and light; we worship and adore you. O God the Son, who reveals the father to us and leads us to him, we worship and adore you. O God the Holy Spirit, the teacher of truth, the inspirer of goodness, who gives us strength and power, we worship and adore you. O Holy and blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God for ever, we worship and adore you.
Most gracious God hear us as we turn to you for pardon. As we confess our faults and failings we look to you for mercy. We do not always love you as we ought with all our heart and mind and soul. We have so often disappointed your Son by our disobedience and lack of loyalty. We have rejected the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit by pretending to be self-sufficient. Dear father forgive us and fill us with that Spirit that from henceforth we may serve you better and love you more.
Almighty God, teach us to rely only on your love that your Son Jesus Christ might reign in our hearts and rule our thoughts. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit make us strong to resist the temptations of the world. This we ask in your dear Son’s name who has taught us when we pray to say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen
St John 16:1-16
A thought for today
The Psalms are a rich treasury of wisdom because the Psalmists asked and tried to answer many questions about God and his relationship with creation. Psalm 8 asks what is probably the greatest question of all- “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” The context in which the Psalmist poses the question makes it all the more remarkable. He has been extolling the wonders of creation, realizing just how insignificant man is set against the background of the glories God created. The glory of creation, the wonder of the starry heavens have a message about the creator and must surely move us to say, “how great thou art!”
Why is it that when there are so many wonders in the world has God placed man where he has at the top? Hence the Psalmist’s questioning. Perhaps there is a sense in which he has asked the wrong question. We might be better trying to consider what led God to honour man rather than wondering what it is that makes us so special.
Today is Trinity Sunday when the Church acknowledges God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The doctrine was developed in the early years of the Church to counter the Arian heresy which argued that Jesus was not divine, but merely a man used by God. The issue was debated at the Council of Nicaea since when the Trinity has become an essential part of Christian belief.
On the face of it, it appears a strange belief that claims that God is 3 in 1, three persons but only one God. Some think that the Trinity is a mathematical impossibility. The Church is not claiming that 3=1 or anything like that. It is simply an attempt to explain the unexplainable and to do justice to our human experience of the Almighty.
As the Psalmist makes clear in several Psalms we experience God through his works in creation. It is difficult to see the beauties of the heaven and the earth and not wonder how all this came to be. It seems incomprehensible that it all came about by chance so we deduce that there has to be a cause for it all and we give it a name – God.
As such God remains vague and nebulous, so far removed from us that we wonder why he should have any interest in mankind. Perhaps this could be the reason that He chose to intervene directly in creation by sending His Son to live a human life. In Jesus we are given an image of God as he himself claims. “He that has seen mee has seen the Father for I and the Father are one”. He is Emmanuel, which literally means God with us. That was a long time ago. Jesus died and was taken up into heaven at Ascensiontide, the end of God living on earth in human form, but not the end of our experience of God.
God in Christ is with us no more. Now we have God the Spirit with us in an even more miraculous way. Having once willingly accepted the limitations of a human body God has now set this aside so that in the Spirit He can be with each one no matter where they might be. Now we are able to experience God with us,leading, guiding, teaching and strengthening.
There is a certain logic from these three distinct ways of experiencing God to deduce that there are three distinct and different Gods. This was the basis of the Arian heresy. It rejected the notion that we can experience something in very different ways. Take water, for example, it can exist as a solid, a liquid or a gas. Ice water and steam are, despite their very different states, still H2O.
The example of an electric fire can also help our understanding. There is the unseen electricity that passes along the cable. It produces the visible light of the element from which heat is radiated. Electricity. light, heat, all appear to be different, yet they are all aspects of the same energy.
In a sense this is what the doctrine of the trinity is about. It is an attempt better to understand our experience of God. There is no mathematical trickery here. While the doctrine of the Trinity helps us to express something of our understanding of the nature of God, we are forced to admit that it does not answer the question with which we began. That is simply a matter of grace and love to be accepted in faith.
A closing prayer
All glory, thanks and praise be unto God the Father who created us. Glory, thanks, and praise be unto God the Son, who has redeemed us. Glory, thanks, and praise be unto God the Spirit who sustains us. Glory thanks and praise be unto the Trinity, one God in three persons.
We give thanks for all our God’s good gifts, for our creation and preservation, for the revelation of himself in Jesus his Son and for his continuing presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
We acknowledge that we have been taught through scripture to make intercessions for all your children. So we pray first for the Church, asking that she might be made strong to preserve the faith handed down to us in scripture and through the hands of our forebears. May she ever hold fast to the Word delivered through your Son and have the courage to stand fast for the truth in the face of the world’s demands for compromise. Enable us who are members of the Body of Christ to honour him in our living through obedience to his commands.
Recognising that we are living in uncertain times as we seek to find the way out of pandemic, guide us by the Spirit to come to a real sense of understanding of others and their needs. Prevent us from endangering others by foolish actions and forgive our past mistakes which may have helped the virus to spread.
Hear us as we remember before you all who are in distress at this time. May they be assured of your love and concern and be upheld by the care and support of others. Bring healing to the sick, relief to those in pain, and give courage and faith to the dying. Remember in your love all those who mourn at this time, especially those seeking to come to terms with the loss of loved ones who have died from the effects of Covid.
And now we pray for our loved ones and our friends, whether near or far off, that we all might bind ourselves to the strong name of the Trinity and thus be guarded from harm or danger.
Go in the peace of God, the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to serve the Lord and the blessing of God Almighty, Father Son and Holy Spirit be with you now and for evermore.